Customer Types : Cost of Support

Certain customer types cost way more to support than others.

Let me tell you a story perhaps you have heard before.

Customer A is a big shot tech company everyone has heard of. They need our WordPress hosting as they are tired of running that lone LAMP stack on one of their 150 AWS instances for their Ruby SaaS app. They spend 10’s of thousands of month on infrastructure and the few hundred dollars paid to us to look after their lone PHP app is part of doing business.

Customer B is small marketing consultant. No less awesome then Customer A as they too trust us to look after their WordPress site for but for only $20/mo. They are in business to make money as well and rely on their website for lead gen and marketing.

Customer A and Customer B enjoy the same amount of uptime and support response times, and besides the amount of resources they use, a few plan enhancements, and price they could very well be the same person.

When an issue occurs, say an unplanned reset of on our nodes that results in a few minutes of downtime the difference in the two customer types becomes obvious.

Downtime SUCKS ASS. Any issue that is out of norm SUCKS ASS. We know it sucks, they know it sucks.. there is no hiding the fact it sucks. Regardless of which customer type, we treat them the same when it comes to remedying issues.

Half the time customer A does not even notice a blip, and when they do they generate a support ticket in the tone of “FYI our site is down”. Customer B on the other hand always notices every hiccup, and generates multiple support tickets in the tone of “OMG the sky is falling, WTF my business is ruined!!! You guys suck so bad!”

Now the $25,000 question.
What’s the difference between Customer A and B? I have my guesses, but you tell me your thoughts.

SF or bust

Maybe you heard (read) me say on twitter that we rented a house in San Francisco this summer. Well it’s true, we did.

Sally and I ( along with a good friend of ours Chase ( have rented a sweet 4bd/2ba house in the Delores Heights neighborhood for about 4 weeks this summer (late june -late july).  Why?

  1. Have you ever spent a summer in Phoenix?  I have spent 7 of them and I am over it. I said last summer it would be the last full summer I spend in Phoenix. Heres to setting a goal and achieving it.
  2. Our office in SF has gone woefully under-used.  We are going to solve that a couple ways: (a) we are hiring (b) we’ll be there.
  3. I am kind of tired of flying out there to meet with these silicon valley investors shoving money in our face. I figure if I am going to keep saying no, I’ll at least do it without wasting the $ on airfare.
  4. The Scene.  We know some people out there and want to get to know them better. What better way to get to know everyone than invite them over and cook for them.  Sounds really old fashion I know… but yes. Sally and I enjoy cooking/entertaining and enjoy getting to know people on a personal level outside the trappings of sxsw or a brief weekend conference.
  6. Must.. See uncle jesse’s…full house.

June 24th….. SF or bust.



Howard Bloom

I’ve been searching Gods all my life, now I know them. There is a meaning to life. There are things worth believing in. There are things worth being passionate about.

All of this plays a part in trying to give a positive sense of something to believe in. A positive crusade of thought, of meditation, of emotion – that you can use to advance humanity tremendously – and that excises deliberately the God of War.

When you find the Gods inside yourself, you’ll find the God of war and he will be one of the most powerful passions in you. You have to freeze him in his own private hell and make your positive Gods the Gods that take you over.

And by the Gods that take you over, I mean you have to find those passions that are so much more powerful in you than anything you’ve been allowed to express in your life – and making those things the things that you work on – not putting off until you’re 40 or 50. The things you feel passionate about at the age of 15 and 16, and going directly to those things and trying to implement them when you’re 20.

Pass go, forget the 200 dollars, go directly to Park Place and put your life there, on the line, with all the emotion, power and passion and insight in you.

And fuck the God of war.


How to plan a great conference: mimic #snowcial

I have been to my share of conferences. And the #snowcial event I just returned from was the highlight of them all. The concerts, the snowboarding, the people, the good times, the content.. all top notch. But the planning and execution also got my attention.

  • When we arrived at the hotel, conference check in took all of 30 seconds after good conversation and introductions with the folks working the table.
  • We were given a schedule of events for the 3 days and headed up to our rooms to drop off our bags and awaiting Jeremy (a speaker) was a hand written thank you note next to a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese and grapes.
  • Before we went to dinner (that was catered) I went back up to my room and awaiting me (a hour or so after checkin) was a Heavenly branded scchwag bag with my name on it that included my ski pass, my conference pass, concert tickets and wristbands for the dance club, and a nice quality fleece jacket and tons of other good stuff.
  • Dinner had blackjack and poker tables with free stuff given away for blackjack and just because.
  • Navigating from one casino to the next for concerts was easy even in an very intoxicated state thanks to personnel in bright green jackets guiding the way.
  • Skiing/Snowboarding was guided by Heavenly staff.. no waiting in line, and groups were formed based on skill level so no waiting for rookies.
  • Lunch and dinner was provided every day.
  • At every turn the event was executed on time and in style…
@Strebel and @Penguin

This level of personal attention may be hard to keep up as this event blows up, which it will surely do. But in the meantime.. If you are are putting together any type of event anytime soon, remember the little things and personal details. The superb organization of the event made for a perfect weekend where I could shift my brain into pure fun mode and not have to worry about getting places, feeding myself, or standing in line for anything. Huge props to the organizing staff.

Some links to other write-ups and pics of #snowcial

America: you are smarter than this

The american people get played like a fiddle, fear is the musician.

History has shown that people threatened by losses of jobs, wages, homes, and savings are easy prey for demagogues who turn those fears into anger directed at major institutions of a society, as well as individuals and minorities who become easy scapegoats – immigrants, foreign traders, particular religious groups.

From an article on small business and the tea party.


There is so much hulla balloo espoused about “community” online. Build a community. Participate in a community. I myself am a huge advocate of community. I blog about it, I speak at conferences regarding collaboration within them. I even sit on the boards of local organizations that are communities of marketing professionals (AZIMA) and entrepreneurs/hackers (gangplank).

But what does it really mean to be part of or participate in a community? Well first there is the agenda. Every community has one and if you don’t see it you have your blinders on. Every community also has it’s “leaders” or those that guide the ship along it’s path. Every community has it’s rabble rousers and vocal members. And don’t forget each community also has it’s ego’s. Every community also has it’s rules.

I am an ask forgiveness later type of person in that I take stock of the community mission/goals and then on my own accord do what I feel like being careful to stay within the apparent rules, but by no means do I wait for someone to tell me it is okay before acting. However by not following the unwritten “rules” or cow-towing to the “leaders” most of the time I tend to piss a few people off.

Some rants and observations:

A few months ago I took it upon myself to give a “voice” to a growing insurrection within Gangplank. A few members including myself were not terribly keen on the (perceived) direction the organization was heading. In general terms some thought the “be dangerous” mantra of Gangplank was under siege as the organization was growing up and becoming a bit more gentrified or “soft” as some said. The transformation was a necessary evolution of a grass roots organization to participate in a larger dialog but a few of us were not ready to give up our “fuck the man” attitude. Gangplank became what it is because it charted it’s own course and it (seemed) to have lost it’s way when (by appearances) more concern was placed on public perception than on core values. So long story short I took it upon myself to make a statement, well a few statements… and they were not received very well. Water under the bridge now, and I think my actions while impulsive at least brought some light onto the situation at hand and created some dialog internally to address the issues.

Take-Away: As a community member, even in a pseudo-leadership position that I am in it’s kinda up to you/us to at least try to steer the ship in the direction we want it go. Your efforts will not always be warmly welcomed but as long as you have the greater good in mind it should all work out.

This next example is a little bit more abstract.

My company is heavily involved in the WordPress community. When I say community in this example there are really two that I am talking about; the greater 30+ million WordPress user community and the very small, very political community that consists of WordCamp organizers, “Official” WP people, and business owners (plugins, themes) in the space.

On the greater community side we do what we can to disseminate information, educate users, convey and reinfornce the values of the community to new comers, and be a good citizen.  The greater community uses the software in some form, and for the most part goes on their merry way publishing online.

But the inner, smaller, community… not sure I have ever been involved in anything quite so politicized before. You got person A talking trash about person B privately then praise them 2 seconds later publicly. You got an unwritten set of rules of what you can and cannot do that seem to morph on a daily basis. You have plugin and theme developers actually scared to speak up and voice dissent for fear of a public lashing. Months after the fact the site is still featuring the very public, and very nasty spat between two members. The issue has been resolved and by all accounts everyone has certainly moved on, yet it remains broadcast for all to see. Reminds me of a severed head on a stake planted in the town square to remind others what happens if you don’t toe the line. We have done things which in our eyes would expand, coalesce, and strengthen the community, yet ruffled feathers of the command and control structure.

And just when you think you had enough some really awesome and amazing people step up to reassure you that you are in the right place. The good far out weighs the bad – by a good measure. Of course not everyone is going to see eye to eye and they shouldn’t. There would not be any evolution if everyone walked lock step to the same tune.  I have met some amazing people and have been fortunate to work with some amazing and talented professionals in the space. To that end I have actually made it a core part of our business to work closely with others in the community. I dont want to be in the plugin, theme, or services space so we partner with those doing it instead. This kind of intermingled ecosystem is a good thing for the community at large and certainly a good thing for us.

Take-Away: You are going to hit political road-blocks no matter where you choose to participate.  Step around them or break thru them if your care enough to do so. People are people and are going to act like people. You can let the system beat you down.. or get creative and work thru it to at the very least accomplish your goals without causing too much ruckus or at the highest order fight the fight to push your version of the agenda.

Final point:

Why the fuck does everyone have the need to “own” it? If there is more than 1 person involved the word “my” should not be in your lexicon. If there is already something like foo going on, why be so keen on owning your own fooey? Just jump on board of foo and make it better. Add your energy to propel the train faster and farther rather than starting in the coach house fabricating your own version of the train? You are not important, and either is your ego. I have witnessed first hand people try to take ownership of an energy, a movement, or a community that they have no business trying to claim.

The flip-side: If this does happen.. and someone else decides to do your “thing” across town or across the interwebz for valid reasons and is decent about it, you have an obligation to help and support them.

Take-Away: If you care at all about community, support that which is already there rather than attempt to fracture off your own plot to play king.

There is a broad line between whining and constructive criticism. Don’t be the guy the throws stones from left field, be the guy that shows up and participates and offers critical feedback. Derek calls Gangplank a “showupacracy”, decisions are made by the people that show up and participate. You have no say in setting the agenda sitting on your couch.

Community, community, community.. for all it’s political games and its awesome energy it is not going away as our world becomes more digitally interconnected. I guess it comes down to how you choose to participate.